The Kalonji family had just closed on a house in Newton County, Georgia, and was instructed by the realtor to go to the home and change the locks before starting the move-in process. While Jean Kalonji and his wife Angelica were working on the house, two men wielding guns confronted them, ordered them away from the house with the threat of gunfire, and accused them of trying to break in. The duo, who appeared to be father and son, didn’t believe the Kalonjis when said that they were the rightful owners of the house, so they called the police who promptly arrested the couple for loitering and prowling.
After a night in jail for the Kalonjis and promises from the sheriff’s department to clear up the confusion, Jean Kalonji, who hails from The Congo, can only liken the experience to the violence that he experienced there. “There, they put me down with the gun to my head, and come here, the same,” he said.
As Americans we like to think that our relatively stable political climate spares us from the kind of random frightening gun violence that so-called turbulent African countries are known for, but it’s hard to hold on to such beliefs after hearing what Jean Kalonji had to say. When average citizens take it upon themselves to act as part of the police force, innocent people always suffer and the level of danger that everyone faces is kicked up a notch. What would make anyone feel entitled to patrol property that is not theirs? What would make those same people act with their own guns before alerting authorized law enforcement? What would make law enforcement then take the vigilantes’ word for it and then declare it all a “misunderstanding”? And why is this chain of events starting to sound scarily familiar lately?
Sadly, the silver lining in this story is that the Kalonjis made it out of the incident with their lives.
Watch a news report on the incident here.